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Casual Space

Apr 25, 2019

Professor Kristen Thompson and Loras College student Audrey Miller share with Beth:

  • Why there was a need to improve the Hientkamp Planetarium at Loras College 
  • How a select group of honors students raised funding for a new projector 
  • Why the planetarium is an important part of both the college and the community 
  • How a man traveled all the way from Israel on the coldest day of the year to install the new projector 

Key Takeaways:

  • Never judge a planetarium by it’s outside appearance… people are astonished when they come inside! 
  • The story of the stars can be told through history, different cultures, and from different perspectives 
  • Planetariums & observatories can be found everywhere- you don’t have to go far to be inspired! 
“[From the outside] you see such a different shape, and then you step inside and you feel like you’re in a TARDIS and there’s no limit to where we can go! We can visit Saturn, we can stand under the rings and look up at the rings. You can watch a sunset on Mars, we can go anywhere in the galaxy we have data for, and with the dome, we have our own IMAX theater!”  Loras College Professor Kristen Thompson  



Facebook page for the Loras College Planetarium:  Heitkamp Planetarium at Loras College
Loras College Magazine feature article about the planetarium and project:
About the NASA National Space Grant and Fellowship Project:

About Kristen Thompson and Audrey Miller: 

Audrey Miller is a senior in the Loras College honors program, and looks forward to studying astrochemistry or astrophysics in grad school soon!
Kristen Thompson, Ph.D is the Associate Professor of Engineering at Loras College. Dr. Thompson earner her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin Madison where she studied Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV). Before attending graduate school she worked at IBM as a Manufacturing Engineer processing printed circuit boards. She earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and is originally from the far west suburbs of Chicago. Her research interests continue to lie within the field of virology. We all think she should rename a popular physics class "Powerful Ideas for Physical Science” to “Physics for Poets.”